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Open Letter To Rob Ford

from Sid Ryan, Ontario Federation of Labour

by Sid RyanOntario Federation of Labour

November 15, 2011

Reports have surfaced that earlier today, and under your orders, Toronto Police officers
distributed eviction notices to Occupy Toronto activists at St. James Park, ordering them
to vacate the park and threatening to remove them forcefully should they not comply by
12:01 am.
We believe that when the history of this extraordinary movement is chronicled, residents
of Toronto will feel betrayed by the lack of leadership you have displayed in not standing
up for them, their aspirations and their deep-seated fears about the economic chaos that
has been fostered by elite interests and their political allies.
Municipal governments, like the City of Toronto, should be listening to the concerns and
taking action to address them, rather than seeking ways to silence them. City bylaws are
not intended to stifle free expression or freedom of assembly, so surely there is a way for
the City to cooperate with the Occupy Toronto campers to allow their camp to continue
on this public property. The Toronto City Council and the Toronto Police Services should
be encouraging and supporting this creative and peaceful action by working with the
occupiers to ensure the safe participation of all of the campers in St. James Park.
Over the past weeks, you had countless opportunities to amplify the many political
messages and concerns expressed by your own citizens. Instead you have chosen to
threaten their rights to expression, peaceful assembly and association.
The labour movement is in full agreement with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in
their letter to municipalities, stating that “without robust protection for these rights, many
other rights become meaningless.”
Surely you must know that there is no power greater than an idea whose time has come
and that the Occupy movement and the truths it tells are everywhere sparking new and
bigger actions. It will continue to grow as people seize the opportunity to foster economic,
social and democratic change. Be aware that if you do not reconsider your heavy-handed
decision, you will be adding greater momentum to this movement.
Please take this letter as formal notice that I will be personally joining the occupiers in St.
James Park tonight, along many other labour activists and community leaders, to link arms
with the Occupy Movement. We are all part of the 99 percent.
There should be no misunderstanding about the fact that the OFL and labour movement
have a long and proud history of support for civil disobedience. It represents the finest
instincts of citizens in a democracy to correct the actions of their governments when all
else fails. Without it, there would have been no Civil Rights, women’s rights, environmental
or other seminal movements that have changed the course of history. Millions across the
globe are free because of civil disobedience.
Our message to the Occupy Toronto protesters is this: While the mayor of Toronto may not
care about the public services we all rely on, you do. While the mayor, the corporations and
those at the top may not care about affordable post-secondary education, public pensions,
living wages, quality public health care and basic entitlement to democratic rights, you do.
Your view that every single human being deserves an opportunity to work, to contribute to
society and to a life filled with hope and the opportunity to live up to their full potential is
what has fuelled the public’s imagination to support your efforts.
The OFL stands in solidarity with you. We will do everything possible to support you in
your desire to make the lives of the 99% of the people in your community better.
We pledge to be there with you, shoulder to shoulder, to defend our right to free speech
and free assembly.
We thank you for bringing hope. We honour you for spreading a vision. You have given
all of us a truly inspiring display of passionate and principled civic and democratic
We are one.
Finally, to Mayor Ford, it is not too late to cancel this eviction and instead dedicate your
City Council deliberations to addressing the urgent concerns raised by the occupiers,
namely protecting public services, creating jobs and eliminating of poverty.
Ontario Federation of Labour
For Further Information:
Sid Ryan, President, OFL, 416-209-0066 (mobile)
Joel Duff, Communications, OFL, 416-707-0349 (mobile) *Bilingual*
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